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Air arrivals: East Africa flying high but Uganda lags behind

East Africa and South Africa have registered the highest increments in international travel arrivals in 2016 according to data analysed between January and August.

According to a new report released by a travellers’ analytics company, FowardKeys, East Africa and South Africa have registered 11.2 percent and 11.4 increments respectively in air travellers between January and August 2016 compared to the same period last year.

ForwardKeys, which predicts future travel patterns by crunching and analysing 14 million booking transactions a day, says the travellers increments in East Africa and South Africa show exceptional performances when compared to Africa as a whole whose growth is at 5.6 percent. 

O.R Tambo airport in South Africa

According to the report, countries like Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, which for long have been attractive tourist destinations, have this year registered little growth or declines in travellers’ numbers.

The analysis further shows that the East African countries that received increased number of inward travels, including by tourists, are Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mauritius, Kenya and Rwanda.

But despite registering a decline in international arrivals, northern African countries still rank highly. South Africa takes the lion’s share of all travels to Africa at 13 percent. 9 percent of the travellers chose Egypt while 8 percent chose Morocco. 5 percent opted for Mauritius while 4 percent opted for Kenya, Algeria and Tunisia. 3 percent travelled to Tanzania and Ethiopia as their destinations and 2 percent chose Nigeria.

Commenting on the results, the chief executive officer of ForwardKeys, Olivier Jager, said they are seeing a tale of two Africas; in which North African countries suffering from political instability and terror activities and Sub-Saharan African countries powering ahead.

The company also looked ahead at bookings to East Africa up to December and says the picture is highly encouraging. International bookings for travel to East African countries up to the end of December grew by 17.3 percent ahead of where they were at the same time last year. 

Analysing the bookings made for September to December this year, 13.7 percent will be coming from the United Kingdom (UK), 13.6 percent from Germany. 11.6 percent from USA, 4.6 percent from France while 3.6 percent will come from Netherlands. 3.5 percent will arrive from South Africa. 3 percent will come from Sweden, 2.9 percent from Switzerland, 2.8 percent from Spain and 2.7 percent from India.
 
Europe is the dominant force, providing 46.1% of air traffic to Africa and has grown by 2.5 percent this year from the previous year.  Travels from Americas have gone up by 12.7 percent, Asia Pacific up by 12.4 percent, the Middle East up by 9.6% percent and travel within Africa up by 5.4% percent.

The report also analysed airport capacity, defined by the total number of seats, revealing that the stars in terms of growth are Nairobi, Kigali and Kilimanjaro.  Uganda’s only international airport, Entebbe does not feature.

On the capacity for flights within East Africa, the report also shows that Nairobi, Kigali and Kilimanjaro also did well. Uganda is the only country in the region without a national carrier.

The data has been released ahead of AviaDev, a new airline route development conference and Africa’s highest profile hotel investment conference, which will be held next month in Kigali, Rwanda, from October 4-6.

Jonathan Worsley, an organizer of the two conferences, said if what is happening in Rwanda becomes a yardstick against which other East African countries measure themselves, he would expect this strong growth to continue. Rwanda recently embarked on the construction of a second and bigger international airport 25km outside the capital Kigali.
 
The airport will have the capacity to handle 4.5 million passengers annually, that is about a half the population of Rwanda. The Rwandan national carrier, RwandAir, has also has invested in new aircraft and set itself ambitious growth plans and the government is actively promoting Rwanda as a destination for conferences, exhibitions, tourism, ICT and investments.

Passengers arrive at Entebbe airport

Asked to comment on the data, the public affairs manager of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Ignie Igunduura, said he needed to read the report first before commenting. Igunduura, however, said Entebbe airport is doing, as he put it, “very, very well”, adding that the massive expansion and revamping of the airport will attract many travellers to Uganda.

This post was syndicated from Breaking and latest news, analysis, comments, business, lifestyle, entertainment and sports from Uganda. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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